BPI establishes fund for former workers, communities
Sept. 28, 2017
by MEAT+POULTRY Staff
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The Roth family earmarked $10 million to compensate former employees and municipalities impacted by facility closures.
DAKOTA DUNES, S.D. – A $10 million fund has been earmarked to compensate employees and communities affected by the 2012 closure of three Beef Products Inc. (BPI) production facilities in the wake of negative press the company received over its production of Lean Finely Textured Beef. On Sept. 26, the family of BPI Founder Eldon Roth announced plans to establish the fund to benefit about 750 workers who lost their jobs when the company was forced to close plants in Texas, Kansas and Iowa
. The company kept one plant open, located in South Sioux City, Nebraska, although its staff was cut back. It also maintained operations at its headquarters in Dakota Dunes although more than 80 corporate positions were eliminated in 2012.
Since then, BPI companies filed a 2012 defamation lawsuit against ABC News for its reporting on the company’s production of what became infamously known as “pink slime” in many press reports. This past June, the case against ABC News and its correspondent, Jim Avila was settled for an undisclosed amount.
“We remain committed to our employees and communities and so are dedicating $10 million to benefit the employees who lost their jobs in 2012,” said Roth when plans for the establishment of the fund was announced. “While it took us longer to get here than we had hoped, we are pleased to finally be able to reconnect with those former employees and see what we can do to help them continue to recover.”
Determining distribution and eligibility of the funds will be coordinated by Rich Jochum and Jennifer Letch, who have been designated as corporate administrators for the BPI companies, which include BPI, BPI Technology Inc. and Freezing Technologies Inc. According to a statement, Jochum and Letch will review applications for the funds from former workers to determine eligibility of individuals while working with chamber of commerce officials in the affected communities to assess possible distribution of the fund.
Jochum said details are being finalized but the process should begin in the next month. To determine individuals’ eligibility, “participation criteria will likely include such things as length of service with BPI, amount of potential unemployment, impact of the loss of employment, and similar factors,” he said.
“The effects of the ABC News campaign were felt by more than just our employees and certainly continue on through today as we continue to operate only one of the four production facilities,” Jochum said. “Only after we are able to re-establish markets and re-open the other plants will cattle producers, consumers, and others that relied upon our production to add value to their communities be able to recover.”